Sunday, February 20, 2005

Overt Simpsons Reference [explicit content]

Well, she's out. Patty is the gay Simpsons character. I predicted it as soon as I heard that a character would come out of the closet, but everyone predicted it, so there isn't anything too special about that. I wanted to just briefly address what I thought was a problem with the episode: it wasn't too liberal, it wasn't too conservative (fun was pointed at both fairly evenly), the problem was that it was only one or the other.

People seem to think that you are either for gay rights or against them, either for traditional marriage or against it. People seem to think that there is no middle ground. I reject exactly this view. I have established myself as somewhere between these extremes, a fan of both legal equality and preservation of the institution of marriage. I wrote a post a while ago about this issue (read it here).

I know I'm not alone in this view. Many people feel that marriage is something different than a civil right. Many people feel we can provide the essential "rights" (more accurately described as privileges - again, see my previous post) to homosexuals without resorting to an institutionalized form. There are a lot of people who see the validity in two arguments - that discrimination and homosexual marriage are both wrong - and who want to work to a solution that addresses both of these positions. Why is this middle so widely ignored? Why does the media insist on reducing the issue to two positions?

I don't know. Maybe it would be too difficult for The Simpsons to work this middle ground into a half hour show. Maybe the middle position just isn't as conducive to humor as the two extremes. Maybe by ridiculing both sides the middle ground is actually furthered (I doubt it, when the two extremes are played against each other, but maybe).

But I don't want to leave this at The Simpsons alone - the problem is much wider. People who only see two sides are the real problem. The people who think there are only democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives. It is the fools who dichotomize everyone that are precisely what is wrong with this country.

And for the most part the people who dichotomize are exactly the people who are one or the other. So the left can run around blaming the right and the right can run around blaming the left but anyone who willingly takes on either one of those classifications is the piece of shit type of person who causes the problems in the first place! Yeah, that's right, I'm saying it! Go to hell leftists! Go to hell rightists! You know I'm talking to you, and I'm not afraid to say it! YOU are what is wrong with this country. You think you got the answers but you don't even know the question! Try shutting your cake-hole for a minute and looking at the real issues. Right and left are both are blind and deaf, but they sure as hell ain't mute. Maybe its the fact that I'm in lawschool in D.C., but there is so much horseshit pretense and posturing, no one takes responsibility and both sides are more concerned with pointing fingers than figuring out solutions. I'm so damn sick of hearing from the liberals and conservatives - why can't we just hear from people for once?!? And it doesn't matter what the issue is either, because democrats think one way and republicans think another, and apparently there's no middle ground. You either hate babies or choice. You either hate the first Amendment or Jesus. You either hate marriage or liberty. Well screw that shit. I don't hate any of those things - I'm not a redneck or a communist! And I'm not a commie redneck either! But the whole proposition that there are only two views is ri-cock-ulous, and its about damn time the left and right open their eyes to the real world. Ri-fucking-cock-ulous. Bastards.


Whoa, sorry, what just happened there? I blacked out for a minute, and something about Simpsons and dichotomies and whoa, now I remember. Um, yeah, sorry. This wasn't going to start out as a true rant, just a mild observation. But something snapped. I guess I'm exposed to too much of that crap here. And it just makes me sick that sensible suggestions can't get any attention. But we'll leave it there for now. Sorry.

20 comments:

dyk said...

Bravo.

CAL said...

So Washington obviously agrees with you.

Matthew B. Novak said...

When you say "Washington obviously agrees with me" what do you mean? Do you mean George Washington and his distaste for a two-party system? Or do you mean it sarcastically? Because if you mean it sarcastically, it isn't the city's fault that stupid people live here. Plus, this problem transcends boundaries.

roo said...

While I generally agree with your tirade, I think that when you say gays can't get married but deserve civil rights is the same sort of polarization you accuse the big two parties of.

The definition of marriage needn't be polarized so, and shouldn't be polarized so.

Matthew B. Novak said...

I think you miss my point precisely. My suggestion doesn't play two sides against each other, but instead works to preserve both goods (legal privileges and vitality of heterosexual marriage). It sounds as if you may disagree that one of these is necessarily a good, and that's a totally different conversation, but I'm cetaintly not polarizing a definition, nor am I in any way certain that a person can polarize a definition.

roo said...

The very premise that marriage requires, by definition, a union between one man and one woman is a politically polarized notion. That is precisely one side's (the right's) argument in favor of continued discrimination based on sexual preference, and is what I speak of when I mention a polarized definition.

The mere mention of "preservation of the institution of marriage" is another piece of right-wing propaganda. A 50% divorce rate in the United States effectively destroys any sense of institution on its own, not the gender of the two joined in marriage

Matthew B. Novak said...

While you assert that having a particular definition of marriage is a "politically polarized" definition, a couple of things should be said. First, this is only the case recently, and previously such a defintion wouldn't have had any political implications. Secondly, and this is more important, it is not the definition which is polarized but the implied policy concerns of that definition. I don't use this definition of marriage to draw the same type of conclusions that many people do. I draw the conclusion only that we should not condone same-sex marriage - which, given the definition, is not a surprise. Now if we want to talk about polarizing or not we have to look to my actual policies, not just a definition. And, looking at my actual policies, which suggest a balance, giving both legal privileges and preserving the institution, we can see that it would never be fair to describe my position as polarizing.

Secondly, I applaud your point on divorce - I am a huge proponent of getting rid of no-fault-divorce, and working to establish a more stable institution. I fight the whole battle, not just the same-sex part. That being said, just because you've got one broken leg doesn't mean you don't keep the other from breaking. Sure, divorce is a problem for the institutional nature of marriage. But just because there's one problem doesn't mean we should encourage another.

roo said...

Separate but equal? Is that what you're advocating then in order to protect your institution?

Matthew B. Novak said...

No, because there is nothing "seperate" about what I'm proposing. I'm saying that we need to recognize that the legal privileges which attach at marriage are distinct from the institution itself, and that we should afford those same privileges to any couple wishing to obtain them, whether they be husband and wife, a same-sex union, unmarried siblings who reside together (I'm thinking non-sexual here), etc. - all provided that there are gaurantees of commitment exhibited. This would afford everyone the same privileges based on the same requirements. I don't see anything "seperate" about that. It's just equal.

roo said...

Creating a new institution that is just like marriage but not called marriage is indeed separate but equal. There's just no getting around it.

foster said...

I'm going to pretend that I didn't see your comment about getting rid of no-fault divorce.

Matthew B. Novak said...

The whole point of my suggestion is to recognize that a series legal privileges are not an institution. I don't advocate creating a "seperate" institution that is not marriage - I advocate distributing the same legal privileges based on an equivalent showing of commitment. How in the world can that be considered seperate? Agree as you might with my tirade, it was idoicy such as yours that I was tirading against. You're making prepostorous claims about what I'm saying without doing any actual evaluation - you're trying to push me into a bracket of people who don't want equality, but I don't fit into that round hole.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Oh yeah, and Foster - I really think the idea that people can get divorced for no reason is a pretty silly idea. If people get divorced they should have to point to something more than "irreconcilable differences." Because the whole idea of marriage is that you commit to reconciling all differences.

foster said...

I can't imagine what business it is of anyone else's that I don't want to stay married to my wife any longer. Are you going to set a time limit that people are required to stay married once one of them wants out? Is it longer if they have a kid? Even longer still if they have two kids?

And who is charge of setting the time? The government? Federal or state? Maybe even local? What I do with my life is my business.

Matthew B. Novak said...

What you do with your life is your business. It is also the business of the government. This is why many things are illegal, or why you can be taxed. Society has an interest in what you do, whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

roo said...

First, I'd like to confess that I'm flattered that you've taken away from your valuable Simpsons time to pander idiocy like mine.

Now, what is it about the institution of marriage that you wish to protect? You wrote, "I have established myself as somewhere between these extremes, a fan of both legal equality and preservation of the institution of marriage" How do you intend to preserve the institution of marriage? Keep the gays out of it? Is that it? Short of that, I don't see it. You've later gone on to talk about how you intend to disassociate marriage privileges with marriage. Is stripping away the legal privileges part of the protection you favor?

Anonymous said...

Are you implying that it is society's best interest that I stay with my wife who I loath? This benefits society how? This is the government's business how? So it's better for me stay with a woman I wish would just hurry up and die, so, what? What's the point?

Most laws are there to protect people from harm. My actions cause no real harm to others. Again, how is this any one's business. Especially the government's.

foster said...

Sorry, that was me.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Roo - I promise a post coming soon detailing more specifically what my proposal is, and how it works to both preserve the institution of marriage and provide equal legal privileges. Also, sorry about the "idiocy" description - I felt in light of the angry nature of the original post that it was a perfectly acceptable and consistent choice of words. Keep an eye out for the post - I promise it by weekend's end, and probably before.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Foster - I am not implying that it is in society's best interest that you stay w/ your wife. I am flat out saying that it is in society's interest for you to live up to the commitment you made, and that you need to get over your difficulties with your wife and make it work. Now, if there are good reasons for your loathing (i.e. infidelity, fundamental disagreements over things such as children, etc.) you may have reason for a divorce. But the severe circumstances are accounted for in legal regimes other than no-fault. No-fault is so permissive that either party can unilaterally execute a divorce for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. Marriage is a commitment which precisely rejects the proposition that no-fault divorce represents. Or at least, marriage should stand against no-fault divorce. This is why I feel no-fault divorce is such a troublesome creation - it weakens the institution of marriage. And, in weakening the institution of marriage it does harm society.

But also, not all laws are to protect people from harm. And some, including Louis Seidman, a leading constitutional law scholar, would argue that every law also makes a moral choice one way or another, and therefore, by its very nature, law transcends the simple "protection" identity you assign to it. And just let me say, in class, Seidman is very persuasive on this point.